New Orleans,
14:42 PM

Audubon Zoo Mourns Loss of Giraffe

It is with great sadness that Audubon Zoo announces the passing of Forrest, the Zoo's beloved Rothchild's giraffe.

Forrest's Audubon care team determined Forrest was experiencing a decline in his quality of life with no hope of improvement considering his advanced age. To prevent him from suffering, animal care and veterinary staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him. While the life expectancy of Rothchild’s giraffes is typically in the upper teens, Forrest lived to be 23 years old. 

Rothchild's giraffes are one of the most endangered distinct populations of giraffes, primarily due to habitat loss and poaching in their native Uganda and Kenya, where they typically live in open woodland areas, grasslands, and savannahs.

The Rothschild's giraffe is easily distinguishable by the coloring of the coat or pelt, with its orange-brown patches and the creamy hue of its connective channel. In addition, Rothschild's giraffe displays no markings on the lower leg, giving it the impression of wearing white stockings.

Forrest has been a favorite at Audubon Zoo since 2002.

"Forrest was the smartest giraffe with whom the leaders on our team have ever worked. He was especially quick to pick up new training behaviors. He was inquisitive and kept a keen eye on happenings near his enclosure," according to Joe Forys, Curator of Mammals at Audubon Zoo. "He intently watched people walking through the Zoo and enjoyed spending his days eating his favorite leaves – elm and ligustrum – but his favorite food was cucumber."

"His long life and remarkable behavior are a testament to the quality care Forrest received from his team," said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO. "He very popular at the Zoo and will be missed." 

Audubon's commitment to giraffe conservation is part of its global expertise in the care and survival of wildlife through research and conservation. Its internationally regarded work continues at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, home to a growing herd of 10 giraffes at the Species Survival Center, including two youngsters that were born there last summer.